Orelia E. Merchant (personal capacity) currently serves as Chief Deputy Attorney General for State Counsel, a member of the New York State Attorney General’s executive leadership team.
Ms. Merchant heads the Division of State Counsel, which consists of seven bureaus statewide that handle litigation involving the state, including its agencies and officials. She oversees over 8,000 active cases statewide, and manages 450 employees, including 250 attorneys, in prosecution and defense of actions and complex cases in state and federal court on behalf of executive branch officials, the legislature, and state agencies, officials and employees; defense of the state against actions in the Court of Claims involving malpractice, contract disputes and property condemnation; recovery of money owed to the state though affirmative litigation; and legal assistance provided to state agencies in connection with the acquisition and disposition of public land.
From 2002 to 2019, Ms. Merchant served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where she had a record of distinguished service. She most recently served as an Executive Assistant United States Attorney with direct oversight of the Office’s Civil and Administrative Divisions, providing counsel with regard to a variety of significant cases and matters handled by the Office and non-litigation matters impacting the Office’s operation. During her tenure as an AUSA in the Civil Division, Ms. Merchant managed a diverse, demanding, and complex caseload, handling a wide range of affirmative and defensive matters. She has prosecuted asset forfeiture, environmental, health care fraud, and mortgage fraud cases, and defended employment discrimination, medical malpractice, bankruptcy, immigration, personal injury, prisoner litigation, constitutional challenges, and federal program litigation cases. Ms. Merchant received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an AUSA – Civil from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in 2016.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, Ms. Merchant served as an Assistant Regional Counsel for the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, in Chicago, Illinois. She also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana in both the Civil and Criminal Divisions, prosecuting general crimes, violent and drug crimes, criminal environmental cases, and defending the government in tort and employment discrimination actions.
Ms. Merchant is a graduate of Tulane University Law School, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Dillard University, and a Master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary.
Ms. Merchant is a graduate of Tulane University Law School, received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics from Dillard University, and a Master’s degree in marine science from the College of William and Mary.